Ed Driscoll

Predicting 'the Don Draper Presidency'—back in mid-2008

Glenn Reynolds rounds-up a number of recent comments from pundits and readers comparing the World’s Biggest Celebrity to the world’s best-known fictional ad man and identity thief, including this comment from reader Dodd Harris:

I don’t think that analogy is entirely fair — to Don Draper. This last season was about the harrowing of Don Draper, just as this political season was the harrowing of Obama. But Don at least experienced it before not really changing. He was tortured, pushed to his limits, and forced to at least acknowledge his past failures. In the end, he chose the easy fix, but he at least plumbed the depths of his own manufactured past before doing so.

I’ve seen no sign Obama has done any of that. He’s still blaming everyone but himself.

I’d just like to point out that I may have been the first, or at least one of the first to note the comparison between the two men — certainly a negative comparison between the two men — way back in July of 2008:

“A man is whatever room he is in” — that’s a remarkably timely phrase right about now, isn’t it?

In retrospect, it certainly appears that way. Like Don Draper, Obama at his best was a master salesman. But in real-life, the best ad men know that the product has to be equal to the ad campaign, or customer disappointment will be palpable. Or as Mad Men advisor Jerry Della Femina wrote 40 years ago in his classic book on advertising, From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-Line Dispatches from the Advertising War:

There is a great deal of advertising that’s better than the product. When that happens, all that the good advertising will do is put you out of business faster. There have been cases where the product had to come up to the advertising but when the product fails to do that, the advertiser will eventually run into a lot of trouble.

But then in 2008, Obama and his campaign staff, non-official and otherwise, were far more interested in making the initial sale than in providing a product that would keep customers satisfied over the long haul. And as was known forty years ago by Draper’s real-life counterparts, the advertiser eventually has run into a lot of trouble now that it’s been rather strongly established that the product in no way matches the ad campaign.